Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is There Such a Thing as a Final Edit?

This morning I completed my edits on the galley for This Feels Like Home. This time through, we weren't looking for editing choices, but formatting and other errors. Even at this stage of the game, the mss has been through several other rounds of edits, I found a few mistakes. That always amazes me, because it seems like no matter how many sets of 'eyes' look at a mss, it never seems to be enough. I feel fortunate that my books go through many rounds of edits with my editor at TWRP. With Home, not only did it go through the regular round of edits, it also went through several rounds of revisions before being offered a contract. And of course before I even submitted it, I went through it several times with a fine tooth come. But, no matter how fine the teeth, something always seems to get through.

For each round of the official, post-contract edits, we look for different things, so perhaps that's what gets in the way of finding those lingering pesky errors. In the first round, in addition to correcting typos and such we were also making changes to phrasing and story continuity. The second round was a bit more of the same. Both of these rounds are done with the 'track changes' feature in Word, so perhaps that's why some of the misspellings and incorrect punctuation slip through. It's sometimes difficult to see those kinds of mistakes with all of the strike-throughs and comments on the page as well.

After that we got to the pre-galley stage. Here we were focused on mainly spelling and usage errors, but if I really, really wanted to edit/revise something, I could, so long as those types of changes were kept to a minimum. In the galley stage it was strictly for errors. No revising allowed. I found an extra set of quotation marks around some dialogue, the word glace instead of glance, a blank line, and two places where italics should have been used but hadn't been. Now the italics should have been fixed in the pre-galley and weren't, but no biggie. And the blank line was simply a formatting issue. But the misused word and the extra in the world had those been missed when I've looked at the mss a million times, my editor has looked at the mss a million times, and the copy edit department had a read-through?

And of course I found places where I wanted to change something, but knew at this stage that I couldn't. At this point, the story is told and nothing about that is going to change. This happens with every story, right? Eventually you just need to let it go and send it out into the world. If we were allowed to, I think we'd keep editing and revising and editing and revising forever...and then no one would ever get to read our books. And wouldn't that be a sad state of affairs?! :)

My editor thanked me for taking the time to go through the mss so thoroughly again. The next step will be to send it to production for the PDF of the final release format (There may or may not be an approval step in there.) and a release date. Yippie! (The galley showed a copyright of 2014, so I'm guessing early next year.) I know I'll be tempted to look through that ready-to-be-published copy when I get it, and I'm sure I'd find a few errors that were missed. But, at that point it will be too late to do anything about it. If there are mistakes, I guess I have to chalk it up to everyone's human and everyone makes mistakes. And I know for a fact my book won't be the only one out there with errors. I'll just have to grimace and bear it when I do my first read-through of the book when I have the paperback in my eager little hands!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. You're right, Debra - however many times we (and other people) go through a manuscript, something always gets missed. I'd tried reading aloud, line by line, even reading the pages in reverse order, or in a different font, but I still manage to miss a typo or punctuation error.
    I find that, even when the book's published, I still want to add. delete or edit something!

  2. Perhaps rather than call it the "final" edit, it should more accurately be the "last" edit. Or maybe the final "effort." Without really looking, my eye is always finding little mistakes in printed works (Anyone need a copy-editor?).

    In fact, and quite ironically Debra, I think I found in your first paragraph above, an explanation as to why you needed so many sweeps through your manuscript: There is something wrong with your fine toothed "come"!

    Congratulations on your new book!

  3. Paula, I do the backwards thing, too.

    Mike, Thanks for commenting. I like the idea of a final effort. And see? It's those flying fingers on the keyboard that mess me up...yikes...and I did a read-through of the post before I hit publish. I think sometimes our eyes see what's supposed to be there and not what really is. -sigh-

  4. Debra, the mistakes in my own books drive me crazy! The backwards thing is really useful, but like you, no matter how many times I go through things, I miss something. And because I'm so conscious of it in my own work, I often find things in others'. But now that I'm published, I realize it happens and as long as it isn't a series of horrible misses, they don't bother me (sometimes, they make me feel good--see, even they miss things!).

  5. Can corrections be made before a reprint run?

  6. Jen, I agree that I do tend to find more in the books I'm reading now that I'm hyper aware of my own editing. In fact today I found a 'where' instead of 'were' in the story I'm reading.

    Ana, My publisher is POD. Hmn? I've never asked if mistakes can be fixed. I might have to look into that.

  7. Debra, having just discovered a website that highlights what it calls your 'echo' words (i.e. the ones you use most often), I'm at the point of thinking 'I will never finishing editing my book' LOL!